Soldier Dog was a bit of a departure from what I normally read, but it’s good to mix things up from time to time, isn’t it? It’s a middle grade historSoldier Dog was a bit of a departure from what I normally read, but it’s good to mix things up from time to time, isn’t it? It’s a middle grade historical fiction novel that takes place during the tail-end of World War I. Fourteen-year-old Stanley lives alone with his angry father after the death of his mother and the enlistment of his older brother. When their prize dog gets pregnant by a local mutt, Stanley’s father writes off the puppies before they’re even born. Stanley, though, loves dogs, and does whatever he can to make sure they’re born healthy. He picks one from the litter to be his own. His father has other ideas, though, and after Stanley’s dad pitilessly gets rid of all the puppies, including Stanley’s, Stanley has had enough. He decides to lie about his age and enlist in the army, to be sent to the front in France.
In the military, everybody seems to recognize how truly young and out of place Stanley is. Fortunately, he learns of a new unit that is training messenger dogs. I have to warn readers who are sensitive about animal death: this book includes dog death. However, the dogs are soldiers and it is treated the same as human death. It is World War I, after all. Being middle grade fiction, though, the death is necessary to the story and never gratuitous.
For being a World War I story, I felt like the war isn’t really at the heart of the book, but serves as a means of escape for the protagonist. While the story might make young readers curious about the war, I don’t think it will teach them a great deal about the major players or the reasons behind the conflict. I love that Angus includes real photographs of the actual messenger dogs and has a historical note and bibliography at the end, though.
Soldier Dog is a bit of a heart-wrencher, but it will have readers sympathizing with Stanley and hoping that he’ll finally get a dog he can keep. This could be a good readalike for fans of War Horse....more
I’m a cat lover. I’m currently wearing a necklace of a cat. I have owned dozens of cats in my life, and I’m only 30.It’s painful for me to think of thI’m a cat lover. I’m currently wearing a necklace of a cat. I have owned dozens of cats in my life, and I’m only 30.It’s painful for me to think of the thousands of dollars I spent in the last couple of years on my now deceased geriatric feline. This book was an absolute perfect fit for me (I bet you thought I was going to say purrrfect, right!?).
While not a long book, there was a whole lot of emotion and love packed into every page of Lost Cat, making this a very satisfying read. The author, Caroline Paul, was in an accident and severely injured, causing her to stay at home and on some serious medications. At least she had her two cats, though. That is, until her skiddish boy cat, Tibia, disappeared for weeks. Fortunately, he returned to her, but Caroline couldn’t get the idea out of her head of finding out where he had been. It became an obsession, complete with a cat-cam and a collar GPS unit.
What kinds of lives do our pets live without us? It struck home for me, because my own cat, Willow, wound up being adopted by a family down the street. They probably thought she was homeless. Eventually, they moved away and took her with them. It still hurts. It’s a bit ridiculous how much we love our pets, but they’re family. This book captured all of those feelings completely. Caroline also writes about the trauma of having to put a pet to sleep, and always questioning if there was something more you could have done, and whether it was the right decision. You know in your heart that it was, but it’s still so painful.
Not only is the writing heartfelt and truthful, but the illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton, Caroline’s partner, are hilarious. My favorite was one of Tibia dressed as an Amish cat on Rumspringa. The illustrations play nicely with the story, creating something that isn’t a graphic novel, but is certainly a novel with a strong graphic element.
I think this is a must-read for cat lovers. It’s pretty lightweight, so you won’t be making a huge commitment to the book, but you’ll find yourself smiling and nodding along, agreeing with everything being said and shown. Where do our cats go at night? Find out here....more